November 4th.

The day AFTER the election.

Starting on November 4th or 5th, most candidates who are running for office will disperse teams of people who’s primary job is to pull up their respective campaign signs.

Millions of dollars each election cycle are spent on huge amounts of campaign marketing, including those campaign signs.

While sitting at a stop light, in the middle of all of the current campaigns, I noticed a sign that sat perched on the corner that was actually from a previous election cycle – 2 years ago. The sign obviously had not been touched for two years. It had a lingering effect. That particular candidate lost their election and I’m sure didn’t care to have to focus on pulling up hundreds of signs from around the county for their losing bid (I’m sure that there are some statutes about this somewhere…).

I couldn’t help but apply this – metaphorically and realistically speaking – to our present day reality.

In every election cycle, there are winners and losers.

It seems to be that in this particular election cycle (November 2020), there actually are a lot more losers than winners. Sure, one candidate will be declared the winner, but when we look at the way in which we’ve communicated with one another, social media timelines, the articles shared, opinions offered, retreating to separate corners…what will come of our nation and our world on November 4th? That’s a big question.

I started out talking about cleaning up election signs, which now begs the question who’s going to clean up from the hate over the last year (years!!!)? Who’s going to clean up the dead and dying relationships from all of the toxic family gatherings that fell apart because of political differences? Who’s going to put on the hazmat suit to wipe up all of the spit that was spew out from the hate and angst in grocery stores, at restaurants, and in parking lots because someone hated the other side’s arrogance?

To be sure, there’s a-lot of election clean up that needs to take place.

My call for clean up is specifically for those who are followers of Jesus Christ.

We have been given a standard to live by that exceeds our own point of views and civic considerations.

Christians are called to “…not let your good be spoken of as evil…” (Romans 14:16, NKJV)

As an aside, I’ve learned even more intently my passion to see Christians live like Christians – from a biblical perspective – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our standard of character, integrity, and lifestyle doesn’t get put aside in the political space. It should carry over.  The standards that Galatians 5: 22-23 reveals – love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance must be the plumb line for our behavior. The thing is, these traits do not consist only of behavior modification, but are a result of our daily submission to following God’s lead in every aspect of our lives.

What does this have to do with November 4th?

To me, everything.

Everyone is focused on November 3rd.

Some (most) of us need to consider life AFTER November 3rd.

That’s a big day. It’s the day set aside for our votes to count. It’s the day that we learn the outcome of the millions of have chosen to participate in the democratic process. It’s the day in which the incumbent either relishes in four more years or a newcomer embraces the opportunity to fulfill their campaign promises.

We know, based on the temperature and polls of our nation that whomever wins needs to prioritize repairing and unifying our nation.  I believe that the numbers suggests that we are literally spilt right down the middle.

It seems that to get our political point across, we have not factored in the reality that we will still have family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, church members, community leaders, and others who are directly and indirectly impacted by what we have so passionately argued for (or against) during the campaign season.

As I write this, there a weariness to the campaign season that I sense. I feel like most people are tired of the campaigning. It feels like, to me, that there is a collectively tension that is screaming, “Let’s just get this over with please???” This idea – in many ways – resonates with me.

Several other articles have already written about this – the rising tension as we get closer to Election Day. (https://time.com/5905986/america-is-on-edge-as-election-day-nears/) Pictures and videos abound of businesses who have boarded up their property in anticipation of what may take place on Election Day or Election Night.

But a larger idea that really compels me – is how will we start to repair broken bridges on November 4th?

How will Pastors who staunchly (and in some ways blindly) stood with and defended their candidates of choice, now clearly and accurately evangelize their entire community while their political voice has eliminated and alienated at least half of the community that they should be sharing the gospel with?

What will happen to the spiritual and prophetic voice and influence of Pastors who cherry-picked scripture to support their view and political preference yet ignored the principles of empathy to understand the lived realities of others?

How will churches now present their global missions campaigns that involve justice work, if during this campaign season they took a more passive approach here at home on matters of social and racial justice?

We’ve got some election clean up to do.

Moreover, the body of Christ is divided. Ministers and Pastors and Bishops are no longer speaking to one another, no longer responding to phone calls or text messages and have blocked other Pastors within their communities on social media.

Active members of local churches are now asking for their names to be removed either because their church spoke too much or too little on the pressing issues of social unrest during the Winter, Spring and Summer of 2020.

Pastors and Ministers have had to resign and leave their ministry assignments because of ways in which they’ve responded to the political issues of the moment. And their resignations, to be sure, have impacted their families, including their children.

We have a lot of election clean up to do.

Where do we start with it? How do we manage the emotions and tension of the day?

Here are a few ideas:

Perspective – Spiritually

God’s Word was established before our political parties and preferences. Our political preferences SHOULD NOT inform our faith, but the other way around. To be clear, a true, healthy and whole view of scripture is not binary approach nor is it a single issue. The AND Campaign has done an amazing job of advocating this point. Believers who are submitted to the Holy Spirit are clear that Jesus and Justice go together and refuse to be pulled (or lulled) into the illusion that we have to be divided. We are called to be peacemakers with the purpose of pursuing reconciliation. We maintain the perspective that we are better together and can accomplish more united than we can as perceived enemies. We aren’t enemies and don’t have to be. There are real, bonafide, Spirit-filled believers in both parties and with no party affiliation at all.  The sooner we recognize that we are called to pursue the Kingdom of God more passionately than our political party, the sooner we’ll move to maintaining the perspective that God invites us to maintain. Paul understood this idea. He said, “in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2: 5, NIV).

Prayer

We are talking more than we are praying. Prayer must involve us talking to God, but it also must involve us listening to God. If we are doing more talking than listening, particularly listening to God, we are bound to get ourselves in trouble. Proverbs, the book of Wisdom, offers timeless insight here, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable…” (CSB). In moments where emotions are high, echo chambers are sounding off, and lots of voices speaking on a matter, often the most prudent thing to do is to talk less and pray more. I don’t know that any of us can claim to have “won a person” to Christ by unleashing any political attacks on our social media pages. Other than our blood pressure going up, there is nothing on the upside of us lacking self-control on social media. Further, prayer is able to offer much deeper, long-term, and sound results than our own opinions. We should be praying for our nation, our leaders, our newly elected leaders and each other. We should let prayer change our nation, but more importantly, our prayers should change us personally.

Pause & Process

Take the time to pause and process what you are feeling, sensing, and navigating. This involves all aspects – our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical state. All of these components of our lives speak to us. Our bodies respond to stress, our mental state is impacted by what we are processing or suppressing, our emotions are indicator lights of what’s happening under the hood of our lives (our souls), and our spiritual state reflects our rhythm with God. In this election season, if we don’t pause and remain self-aware of ‘where’ we are, we will end up only reacting to every thing that is thrown at us. It is this reacting that will cause us to say things that are not good for our Christian witness, impacts our closest relationships, and causes us to choose a policy over a person.  Why does this matter? Jesus always prioritized people over politics. Jesus always choose humanity over individual hang ups. There is power in the pause. Beyond the ability to process what we are thinking, sensing, and feeling, James invites us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” These three admonitions cannot happen when we don’t pause.

Participation

Voting is a must. The reasons to justify voting (as opposed to not voting) are endless and can easily be provided. But voting is one element of our engagement in systemic and policy change. Participation in the process outside of an election must be a part of every individuals’ equation. We cannot do everything, but we can do something. Staying informed locally, being aware of who’s in office, understanding what proposals are on the table, and being curious about the local history of critical aspects of your local community is critical to long-term success.  To be involved only during election cycle limits the demand that can be placed on our elected officials. They (elected officials) need a populace that is regularly paying attention, engaged and holding them accountable even outside of the election (campaign) cycle. It is necessary for every single individual to find their lane, connect with others who are influencing that area, and

What would you add to this list?

 

Helpful Resources:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/october-web-only/and-campaign-compassion-conviction-civic-engagement-politic.html?fbclid=IwAR34FBh_rVQkHeQCSILt93fHhELVbA54gxZtEyJqQUX3nxzhFghXNIQMbG8

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/trump-election-politics-church-kingdom.html?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=later-11503443

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/june/efrem-smith-george-floyd-minneapolis-evangelicals-response.html

 

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